Chapter 12. After the Collapse: Open Government and the Future of Civil Service

David Eaves

Across North America and around the world, citizens and public servants—influenced by social media, Web 2.0, open source software, and other social and technological developments—see growing pressure on governments to evolve. Seeking to respond to increasing citizen expectations around service delivery and effectiveness, these reformers envision governments that act as a platform: that share information (particularly raw data), are transparent in their operations and decision making, enable and leverage citizen-led projects, are effective conveners, and engage citizens’ requests, ideas, and feedback more intelligently.

Government as a platform holds enormous possibility. But most present-day government institutions are not designed with this role in mind. More importantly, their cultures usually reflect the corporate values of a hierarchical system: centralized decision making, risk aversion, a strong delineation between insiders and outsiders, and deference to authority and specialization. In short, our governments are analog systems, not just in their structure and processes, but also in their values and culture. Understanding first the exogenous forces that are driving governments to evolve, and second how these forces will affect and manifest themselves within government, is essential to successfully managing the transition from Government 1.0 to Government 2.0. This is the goal of this chapter.

Based on my experiences working with civil services, as well as open source communities in the public policy and software space, the first half of this chapter describes four core shifts that are pushing governments from hierarchy to platform: Shirky’s Coasean collapse, the long tail of public policy, patch culture, and finally, the death of objectivity. In the second half of the chapter I outline the preconditions to shifting government from an analog/hierarchical structure to a digital/network structure, some strategies for extending the network to include citizens, and some ideas for the basis of a new culture to support public servants. My experience has been that most public servants, particularly those who are younger, are not only dedicated but keen for new models that would enable them to serve the public and their political masters more effectively. Many recognize that getting government to serve as platforms in a digital world will be a difficult transition. We have many allies for change, and so we also have a collective responsibility to provide them with language and frameworks to describe why government will change, as well as suggest a map for how to manage it effectively.

The Coasean Collapse

At the beginning of Here Comes Everybody,[152] Clay Shirky cites the work of Ronald Coase, who in 1937 published his famous paper, “The Nature of the Firm.” In it, Coase answered a question that had vexed economists for some time: what is the value of hierarchical organizations? Why don’t people simply self-organize in a manager-free environment to create goods and deliver services? Coase theorized that managing transaction costs—the costs of constantly negotiating, coordinating, and enforcing agreements among collaborators—creates efficiencies that favor organizations. Interestingly, as transaction costs fall moderately, large firms can become larger still, but a greater number of smaller organizations also emerge as the costs to coordinate the production of niche products drop.

Shirky, however, takes Coase’s thesis to its logical conclusion and asks the question that ultimately forms the basis of his book:

But what if transaction costs don’t fall moderately? What if they collapse? This scenario is harder to predict from Coase’s original work, as it used to be purely academic. Now it’s not, because it is happening, or rather it has already happened, and we’re starting to see the results.

So what happens to some of the world’s largest and most important institutions—governments—when transaction costs collapse?

The most important outcome of the Coasean collapse is that self-organizing groups can perform activities—more effectively and cheaply—that were previously the preserve of large hierarchical institutions.

One of the most compelling examples of an emergent network within government is the advent of the DIRECT Launcher project. A few years ago several NASA engineers and scientists became increasingly concerned about the direction of the planned replacement for the Ares I and Ares V rockets. Specifically, they believed senior decision makers were overlooking designs that could achieve the projects’ objectives more quickly, safely, and cheaply. Ultimately, these scientists and engineers began to meet in secret, working together online to scope out and design an alternative rocket. As word spread, non-NASA employees joined the group, providing additional support. According to Wikipedia, as of September 2008 the DIRECT team consisted of 69 members, 62 of whom are NASA engineers, NASA-contractor engineers, and managers from the Constellation Program. A small number of non-NASA members of the team publicly represent the group.

This is a classic Coasean collapse scenario—not in the marketplace, but in a government bureaucracy. A group of individuals, thanks to lowered transaction costs, have created a virtual, unofficial “skunk works” capable of designing a rocket that many argue outcompetes that of the large bureaucracy to which many of the participants belong. The network is more effective and efficient than the hierarchy. It is also more nimble: the capacity to involve outsiders is especially important as the NASA employees fear they could lose their jobs. The external volunteers—some with significant expertise—are free to represent and advocate for the project’s design.

So how serious is DIRECT Launcher? Serious enough that on January 9, 2008, President Obama’s transition team met with the project’s representatives.[153] Subsequently, on May 7, 2008, the administration announced the launch of the Augustine Panel, an independent review of planned U.S. human space flight activities. It is very hard to imagine that this review was not a result, at least in part, of the DIRECT Launcher initiative.

The lesson here is that the structure of government will change. Today there are more efficient means of coordinating activities, sometimes exponentially so, than the large bureaucracies of government. To be clear, this is not an argument to end government. But it does suggest that if governments are too slow or too unresponsive, citizens—or even government’s own employees—may find new ways to tackle projects that, due to high coordination and transaction costs, were previously exclusive to the governments’ domain.

But the Coasean collapse isn’t just making self-organizing easier, both within and outside government. It poses a still larger challenge to government: it blurs the line between the value of “insiders” versus that of “outsiders.” In a world where expertise is spread across government agencies, not to mention among institutions outside government (to say nothing of Charles Leadbeater’s Pro-Ams or even just hobbyists), the Coasean collapse allows for an even greater shift: it opens access to the long tail of public policy.

The Long Tail of Public Policy

In his 2006 book The Long Tail,[154] Chris Anderson describes the shift from the traditional retail economics of “hits,” created by limited and expensive shelf space, to the digital economics of niches that emerge when retailers can stock virtually everything. In these digital marketplaces, according to Anderson, “the number of available niche products outnumber [and collectively outsell] the hits by orders of magnitude. Those millions of niches are the Long Tail, which had been largely neglected until recently in favor of the Short Head of hits.”[155]

The same long tail principles in consumer markets apply to citizen interests in public policy.

It is a long-held and false assumption that citizens don’t care about public policy. The belief is understandable: many people truly don’t care about the majority of public policy issues. There are a few geeks, such as myself, who care passionately about public policy in general, just like there are some people who are baseball geeks, or model train geeks, or nature geeks. But we shouldn’t restrict ourselves to thinking that a community must be composed only of the hardest-core geeks. While there are hardcore baseball fans who follow every player in the league, there are still a significant number of people who follow only a favorite team. Similarly, there are many people who do care about some public policy issues or even just one policy issue. They’ve always been there: some are active in politics; others volunteer; many are dedicated to a nonprofit organization. Most simply keep up with the latest developments on their pet issue—present, perhaps, but silent unless the immediate benefits become more apparent, or the transaction costs of participating are lowered. They form part of the long tail of expertise and capacity for developing and delivering public policy that has been obscured by our obsession for large professional institutions (see Figure 12-1).

I first encountered the long tail of public policy in 2001 while volunteering with a nonprofit called Canada25. Canada25’s mission was to engage young Canadians aged 20–35 in public policy debates. From 2001 through 2006 the group grew from a humble 30 members to more than 2,000 people living across the country and around the world. These members met on a regular basis, talked policy, and every 18 months held conferences on a major policy area (such as foreign policy). The ideas from these conferences were then filtered—in a process similar to open source software development—into a publication which frequently caught the attention of the press, elected officials, and public servants.

Did Canada25 get Canadians aged 20–35 interested in public policy? I don’t know. At a minimum, however, it did harness an untapped and dispersed desire by many young Canadians to participate in, and try to shape, the country’s public policy debates. While most people assume interest—and expertise—in public policy resides exclusively within civil service[156] and possibly some universities and think tanks, we discovered a long tail of interest and expertise which, thanks to collapsing transaction costs, was able to organize.

The long tail of public policy
Figure 12-1. The long tail of public policy

The Coasean collapse has made accessing and self-organizing within the long tail of public policy possible. While essential to moving government to a platform model, it poses enormous cultural challenges. Governments are built on the assumption that they know more, and have greater expertise, than the public. Public servants are also oriented toward managing and controlling scarce resources, not to overseeing and engaging an abundant but scattered community. Most of all, governments’ culture still values presenting a final product, not works in progress. In short, opening up the long tail of public policy requires a government that is willing to shift from a “release” it uses internally, to the “patch culture” a growing number of citizens are becoming accustomed to.

Patch Culture

One of the traits of open source software, but also of the Internet and virtually everything that resides on it, is that, because of its digital nature, nothing is ever finished. There are always mistakes to be corrected, new uses and applications to be adjusted for, or extensions and improvements to be added. The expectation is not “This is finished and will remain as so forever,” but rather “Here is this service/idea/document/et cetera, at this moment in time: feel free to use it, or tell us what you think.”

In short, the Internet has rewired our relationship with everything around us and has given rise to a new ethos: the patch culture. Without a doubt, patch culture is strongest among coders who participate in open source communities. While the number is growing, there are still relatively few people who can see a bug or imagine a feature and code up the patch themselves and submit it. But the ethos of a patch culture has spread far beyond this community. People regularly notify me about typos or errors on my blog, and I see people who extend or rethink pieces I’ve written; I do the same, remixing, editing, and extending the works of others. (How many people have I cited in this chapter so far?)

The great thing about a patch culture on the Web is that once users understand that nothing is final and everything can be improved, this worldview quickly shifts from the online to the offline space. The emergence of services such as is recognition that any infrastructure, online or offline, has bugs and that there is value in identifying them—and possibly even in self-organizing to repair them. The upside is that although people will still “complain” when it comes to a government service, a piece of infrastructure, or even a bill destined for debate, more and more people will look to “comment” or to offer suggestions or solutions. Still better—but more demanding—is that they will expect someone to act on their suggestion, or more interestingly, if no one acts on it, they may create “the patch” themselves.

This is precisely what OpenCongress is doing. The founders of OpenCongress could have spent years lobbying Congress to more effectively share information about how its members are voting and working. Instead, they chose to patch the system by creating their own site, one that, by aggregating information about Congress, brings greater transparency (and, in theory, accountability) to the institution. Lawrence Lessig’s Change Congress is another example of patch culture. Once again, Lessig could have spent years lobbying Congress to adopt new rules (a completely valid approach to patching the system), but instead he has proposed an “add-on” or “plug-in” to the rules, a more aggressive rule set that members of Congress can select to adopt. His hope is that, if enough members choose to use this plug-in, the patch will be adopted into the core source code—the laws and rules that govern Congress.

Patch culture is also an outcrop of a deeper shift that has been taking place among Western democracies for the past several decades: the decline of deference. If one is going to be able to “patch” one’s government or community, one needs access to the underlying code. This means not only access to the basic raw data (like that being released by cities such as Vancouver, Washington, D.C., San Francisco, and Nanaimo, BC), but also access to understanding how decisions get made, how resources get allocated, and how the underlying system of government works. There was a time when citizens trusted objective professionals and elected officials to make those decisions on our behalf, and where the opacity of the system was tolerated because of the professionalism and efficiencies it produced. This is no longer the case; the Internet accelerates the decline of deference because it accelerates the death of objectivity. It’s not that we don’t trust; it’s just that we want to verify.

The End of Objectivity

In the 2008 Bertha Bassam Lecture, David Weinberger points out that over the past several centuries we have come to equate credibility with objectivity and impartiality, but that the rise of the Internet is eroding this equation (italics added by me):

Because it shows us how the sausage is made, Wikipedia is far more credible. Yet this is exactly the stuff that the Britannica won’t show us because they think it would make them look amateurish and take away from their credibility. But in fact transparency_—which is what this is—_is the new objectivity. We are not going to trust objectivity. We are not going to trust objectivity unless we can see the discussion that led to it.

Replace “the Britannica” in this quote with “civil service” or “the government” and you see the problem. The values of civil service presume that objectivity and impartiality lead to credibility. Indeed, in many Western democracies this is a core value of civil service: to provide “objective” advice to partisan elected officials. Increasingly, however, this model is breaking down. One reason why demand for open data has resonated within and beyond the tech community is that people aren’t satisfied with seeing the final product; they want the right to see how, and with what, it was made.

Governments will argue they are open, but this is in only a relative sense when compared to private corporations (as opposed to open source projects). Take, for example, Freedom of Information (FOI) requests infrastructure in Canada. Put aside the fact that this system is simultaneously open to abuse, overwhelmed, and outdated. Think about the idea of FOI. The fact that information is by default secret (or functionally secret since it is inaccessible) is itself a powerful indication of how fundamentally opaque the workings of government remain. If information growth is exponential, how much data can the government not only manage but effectively assess the confidentiality of on a regular basis? And at what cost? In a world where open models function with great efficiency, how long before the public loses all confidence?

Why does this matter? Because successful platforms are very rarely those that are opaque and self-appointed as credible. Quite the opposite: platforms for innovation work because they are transparent, are accessible, and can be remixed. And yet reorienting governments from an authority model based on objectivity to one based on transparency is possibly one of the single greatest obstacles.

The combination of these four forces—the Coasean collapse, the long tail of public policy, patch culture, and the death of objectivity—is reshaping how governments operate and their relationship with citizens, and is presenting them with an opportunity to establish themselves as platforms for innovation. But they simultaneously serve as enormous challenges to the status quo. Virtually everyone I speak to in government talks about the stress of change and uncertainty they currently experience. This is hardly surprising. Sociologist William Ogburn once noted that social stresses can arise out of the uneven rates of change in different sectors of society. Today, the gap between the government and the private sector (particularly the tech sector) has become enormous.

From the inside, the transition from a civil service that is corporate and opaque to one that is transparent, open, and platform-oriented risks looking like it will be gut-wrenching, challenging, and painful. Reengineering processes, metrics, worldviews, roles, and, above all, a 100-year-old culture and values set deeply embedded within civil service is scary. We all fear change, particularly if we fear that change might erode our influence. Ironically, however, it is the resistance that will erode power and influence. Those governments, and especially those civil services, that embrace these shifts and develop appropriate strategies will discover that they are still influential—just in new and unforeseen ways.

Two Preconditions to Government As Platform: Capacity for Self-Organization and Collaboration

Presently, much of the talk around Web 2.0 and social media focuses on how governments can better serve and connect with citizens. I, too, share optimism about these technologies (which I’ll discuss later). However, this focus is presently misplaced. At the core of these discussions is a belief that government need not react to the four shifts I outlined earlier. Instead, the dominant perspective seems to be that a social media “shell” will protect governments from these changes and allow business to carry on as usual. Ask NASA how well that strategy is working out.

The first part to becoming a platform is ensuring that government employees are able to connect, self-organize, and work with one another. Any effort to improve citizen engagement will ultimately fall flat unless we first tackle how government itself operates.

Take Facebook as an example. Frequently, the debate in many countries rests on whether governments should ban access to Facebook, or, in more sophisticated environments, how the government uses Facebook to engage citizens. But both discussions miss the real issue.

If government is going to serve as a platform, it must first embrace the Coasean collapse. This means accelerating, not preventing, the capacity of public servants to self-organize. More specifically, it means allowing them not only to connect, but also to be able to assess and determine with whom to connect. It is a little-known fact that few governments have comprehensive directories where employees can find one another. For example, in Canada, the Government Electronic Directory Services (GEDS) lists the name, title, work address, and phone number of every federal employee (and is thus miles ahead of most countries). Ironically, however, if you know any of those search parameters, you probably didn’t need the search engine to begin with. People need to connect based on interests, knowledge, or experience—precisely the type of search Facebook enables. Facebook is the (silo) killer app. It allows public servants to find expertise and self-organize around issues—such as security, health, and the environment—that cut across departments or agencies. Indeed, the U.S. government’s security community, which takes its work very seriously, has already embraced the effectiveness and efficiency of a network structure. In December 2008 it created A-Space, a Facebook-like application for intelligence analysts. Thomas Fingar, the deputy director of national intelligence for analysis, says the technology “can also help process increasing amounts of information where the number of analysts is limited.”[157]

In addition to finding one another, public servants must have a place to share their work before government as a platform can take form. This again requires an enormous cultural shift. Public servants have to be trusted to share information internally within departments, externally across departments, and eventually (and most controversially) externally with the public.

The shift centers on the fact that, at the moment, most governments continue to exist in a pre-Coasean-collapse universe. They almost exclusively use hierarchies to filter information and allocate resources. Those at the top see only what those immediately below believe they need to (or should) see. This places an enormous burden and responsibility on those in the middle of the organization. They literally control the flow of information within government departments. This means senior officials regularly make critical decisions in the absence of all sorts of information. More specifically, these senior decision makers—and the interests and concerns they perceive as paramount—are separated from the raw information by myriad middle managers, whose reasons for filtering information may vary. Collaborative tools such as wikis offer us an escape from this problem. Recently, Natural Resources Canada, a ministry of the Canadian government, started conducting deputy minister briefing notes on a wiki. This means anyone in the department, no matter how junior, can add or correct information in the briefing note. As a result, anyone can see who is adding (and who is removing) information from the briefing note and an open debate over what should be filtered can emerge. Suddenly, a ministry is tapping into its internal long tail of expertise, in terms of both the information supplied and the filters applied.

Still more exciting is GCPEDIA, a massive wiki accessible to all 300,000 federal Canadian public servants, where anyone can share his work and invite others to comment. Will everyone participate? Likely not. But those who do will have proposals whose ideas will be better vetted and informed, even if only a minority comment. Such wikis could themselves emerge as a platform, one that could increasingly serve as a common space, even a community, where public servants—and possibly some members of the public—can connect, exchange ideas, and update one another on their work.

Let me reiterate: the challenge of embracing the Coasean collapse and accessing the long tail of public policy across and outside government is not technical, it is cultural. Enabling public servants to self-organize, solve problems, and share information runs counter to the corporate/hierarchical cultures that frequently dominate government agencies. There is good reason for this: most governments center on an accountability model that holds ministers responsible for what takes place within their institutions. But this does not mean that the minister or her direct representative must approve every interministerial meeting or sign off on every internal communiqué. Most importantly, few government agencies will have access to all the information they need. Drawing on the long tail, be it within government or outside, will be necessary. And remember, virtual networks will form within governments. They are simply too efficient a way to operate. The only question is whether they will emerge by design, as in the case of the intelligence community, or in opposition to structures that refuse to yield, such as with DIRECT Launcher.

Extend the Network

Once governments have figured out how to create platforms for their own employees, we can begin to think about how to enable citizen participation. One thing that is frequently frustrating is that we treat these types of approaches as new (and thus different or scary). The fact is that governments have been accessing a long tail of information from the public for a long time. Indeed, municipal 911 services are an excellent example. Here is a system that, to a limited degree, is already a platform. It relies on constant citizen input and is architected to be participatory. Indeed, it works only because it is participatory—without citizen input, the system falls apart. Specifically, it aggregates, very effectively, the long tail of knowledge within a community to deliver, with pinpoint accuracy, an essential service to the location it is needed at a time it is needed. Better still, people are familiar and comfortable with it, and virtually everyone agrees it is both an essential component of modern government service as well as one of the most effective (see Figure 12-2).

Citizen participation and emergency services
Figure 12-2. Citizen participation and emergency services

Imagine the curve in Figure 12-2 represents all of the police, fire, and ambulance interventions in a city. Many of the most critical interventions are ones the police force and ambulance service determine themselves. For example, the police are involved in an investigation that results in a big arrest, or the ambulance parks outside an Eagles reunion concert knowing that some of the boomers in attendance will be “overserved” and are likely to suffer heart attacks.

Although investigations and predictable events may account for some police/fire/ambulatory actions (and possibly those that receive the most press attention), the vast majority of arrests, firefights, and medical interventions result from plain old 911 calls made by ordinary citizens. True, many of these are false alarms, or are resolved with minimal effort (a fire extinguisher deals with the problem, or a minor amount of drugs is confiscated but no arrests are made). But the sheer quantity of these calls means that while the average quality may be low, the calls still account for the bulk of successful (however defined) interventions. Viewed in this light, 911 is a knowledge aggregator, collecting knowledge from citizens to determine where police cars, fire trucks, and ambulances need to go.

As we look to governments to replicate this type of success across other areas, to tap into both the long tail and the emerging patch culture, two important lessons spring to mind:

It is a self-interested system
While many 911 callers are concerned citizens calling about someone else, I suspect the majority of calls—and the most accurate calls—are initiated by those directly or immediately affected by a situation. People who have been robbed, are suffering from a heart attack, or have a fire in their kitchen have a high incentive to call 911. Consequently, the system leverages our self-interest, although it also allows for Good Samaritans to contribute as well. We need to enable citizens to contribute when and where it is most convenient and urgent to them.
It is narrowly focused in its construct
The 911 service doesn’t ask or permit callers to talk about the nature of justice, the history of fire, or the research evidence supporting a given medical condition. It seeks a very narrow set of data points: the nature of the problem and its location. This is helpful to both emergency response officials and citizens. It limits the quantity of data for the former and helps minimize the demands on the latter.

These, I believe, are the secret ingredients to citizen engagement of the future: one where we focus on gathering specific, painless information/preferences/knowledge from citizens to augment or redistribute services more effectively.

The genius of 911 is that it understands the critical nature information plays in a system. It has the credibility to draw important information in, and it rewards those who share appropriate information by moving it quickly through the network. As a result, the right resources, in the right place, can be allocated to the task.

The Next Civil Service Culture: The Gift Economy

One of the exciting outcomes of the four shifts is that, like the Internet, they commoditize information. As public servants are able to network and self-organize, information will flow more freely. This, for example, is what occurs with the deputy minister briefing notes at Natural Resources Canada. This freedom of information further increases if governments tap into the long tail of public policy and ask citizens to submit “patches” to the system. As public servants are better able to access one another through social media and find information through wikis, the nature of power and influence within that system begins to shift. While hierarchy will not disappear from government, a networked civil service will evolve a new culture.

Presently, the information economy in many governments is scarcity-based. Information can be hoarded—and deployed to maximize the influence of its owner—because of government, silos, the sheer size of those silos, and the hierarchical structure that controls and filters the flow of information. But something frequently happens to scarcity economies when their underlying currency becomes abundant: they transform into gift economies. For an example, consider Eric Raymond’s description of the gift economy that operates within an open source system:[158]

Gift cultures are adaptations not to scarcity but to abundance. They arise in populations that do not have significant material-scarcity problems with survival goods…. Abundance makes command relationships difficult to sustain and exchange relationships an almost pointless game. In gift cultures, social status is determined not by what you control but by what you give away.

As public servants are better able to locate and share information across silos, the incentives around hoarding will begin to shift. For many in civil service, gift economies become more prevalent than scarcity economies. Sharing information or labor (as a gift) within civil service increases one’s usefulness to, and reputation among, others within the system. Power and influence in this system thus moves away from the ability to control information, and instead shifts to a new set of skills: the ability to convene, partner, engage stakeholders, act creatively, and analyze.

And here is both the most important lesson and the most exciting implication for governments as platform. The traits that make people successful in a gift economy culture overlap with the type of culture that makes platforms successful. Platforms work first because people want to use them: because they are both useful and easy to use. But they sustain themselves when those who manage them recognize they are a shared space. A government platform that seeks out patches and gifts from the long tail of public policy, treats internal and external input equally, and is persistently transparent in how the platform is being managed will be a government that thrives in the twenty-first century. Such a culture is not a foregone conclusion. Today there are open source and online communities where, because of choices made by early participants, ideas are shared, people are dealt with respectfully, and contributions are acknowledged. There are also less functional communities where positive values and behaviors are not modeled. The key here is that governments have an opportunity now, as they manage the shift, to create an underlying culture that will support a sustainable platform people will want to build upon.


Without a doubt, the early twenty-first century is both a stressful and an exciting time to be a government employee. The constant fear of gotcha journalism, the increased centralization of bureaucracy, as well as the perpetually rising expectations of citizens and taxpayers mean that many public servants often work under conditions that many would find too exhausting and too draining to tolerate. This chapter’s outline for how this entire world could (or will) shift could be seen as either liberating or completely overwhelming. Happily and sadly, it will be a little bit of both. I believe that the four shifts I shared here are inevitable. Enabled by technology and demanded by the public, the way governments operate will change.

The good news is that this transition need not be as painful as many believe, and it carries with it enormous opportunities for improving the mission of government. I once remember hearing a story about when computers were introduced into a government department. At first, people ignored them; then, when only secretaries knew how to use them, they feared them and lobbied against them. Today, however, if you walk into a government department and suggest removing all the computers, every public servant will insist you are crazy. Today we think networks in government, long tails of public policy, gift economies, and the death of objectivity can all be either ignored or fought against. Neither is a viable strategy. Governments need to be ready to experiment and embrace these shifts. And it can be a shift. In this chapter, I outlined achievable and incremental actions governments can and are taking. Indeed, in my experience, in every government there are individuals or groups that are already experimenting and innovating. This change is not beyond our capacity; indeed, in many cases the shift has already begun.

About the Author

David Eaves is a public policy entrepreneur, an open data activist, and a negotiation consultant. A fellow with the Centre for the Study of Democracy at Queen’s University, he is a frequent speaker to students, executives, and policy makers on issues relating to public service sector renewal, open government, and Canadian public and foreign policy, and writes daily on these subjects at He advises the Mayor and Council of Vancouver on open data and open government and serves as an international reference group member of the Australian Government’s Web 2.0 taskforce. As a negotiation consultant, he provides strategic advice, coaching, and training to leading companies around the world in industries such as financial services, health care, information technology, energy, and telecommunications. Originally from Vancouver, British Columbia, David completed a Bachelor of Arts in history at Queen’s University in 1998 and a Master’s of International Relations at Oxford in 2000.

[152] Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations, Clay Shirky, Penguin, 2008.

[154] The Long Tail: Why the Future of Business Is Selling Less of More, Chris Anderson, Hyperion, 2006.

[156] In Canada, this is called public service, but in the United States it’s commonly known as civil service.